Teachers said to us, "We need a list of people who are important in New Hampshire history."

What names belong on such a list? Who is most important? Who lacks significance? Who decides who is and is not worthy of study? What criteria should we use to decide?

The famous and public usually win inclusion over the unknown and private. Most lists include politicians, warriors, businessmen, and writers. That view of history misses the common person and everyday experiences. Such lists often miss important experiences of minorities, the lower classes, and women.  In other words, the perspectives of such lists fail to
take into account the majority of people who have lived in the past.

The historian, teacher, student, and citizen must always ask of a list, "Is this perspective accurate? Whose vision does it represent?"

Historical fame is often a function of deeds recorded in writing. For instance, how are we to know about pre-contact Native American leaders? Written records do not exist to tell us, and the oral traditions of Native Americans were severely disrupted after contact with Europeans. Therefore a list of people important in New Hampshire's past can give the
erroneous impression that no Native Americans of importance existed before Europeans came and wrote about the people already here.

A list of people in history also reflects the perspectives and interests of the compilers. The list below contains no sports figures, yet someone attuned to sports might consider Olympians and baseball players vital in representing New Hampshire history. 

The founders of our nation recognized that a good citizen in a democracy is an educated, aware citizen. We must examine our visions of the past and become aware of why we have formed them as we have. We must become aware of why we choose some people over others for their significance to us. Even elementary school students can begin to examine our (and their) choices of historical figures to study and immortalize.

A beginning list follows. It includes some Native Americans, some famous politicians, some ethnic minorities, some women, some common people. You may consider some of the choices for inclusion and exclusion rather odd. You may recognize some of the names immediately, and you may never have encountered some of the others. 

The purpose of this list, then, is to incite critical thought and debate among teachers, students, and community members. Look for other lists. Compare them. Evaluate them.

Some of the f names were included because they are considered by many to be of standard political importance.  Some were included because they bring to mind topics that are appropriate for K-6 students. Some have been omitted because they are not named in widely available sources. Others have been omitted because the research has not been done, so we do not know of their deeds. In addition, many of the names could appear in more than one era.

This list should always be A Work In Progress, reflecting changing research and interpretations of our history. Please, add names that you and your students find. How about making your own list, keeping it in a visible place, and amending it through the year?

To help you, most of the names below can be found in one or more of the following sources.

Anderson, Leon W., Alice V. Flanders, and Edward J. Gallagher. New Hampshire Woman Legislators. 1921-1971. Concord, NH: The New Hampshire Savings Bank, 1971. [pamphlet available on the internet at http://www.state.nh.us/nhsl/]

Jager, Grace, and Ronald. New Hampshire: An Illustrated History of the Granite State. Woodland Hills, California: Windsor Publications, Inc., 1983.

Heffernan, Nancy Coffey, and Ann Page Stecker. New Hampshire: Crosscurrents In Its Development. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1996.

Kaplan, Sidney, & Emma Nogrady Kaplan. The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution. Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1989.

New Hampshire State Library. Famous New Hampshirites. [on the internet at www.state.nh.us/ nhsl/]

Mevers, Frank, ed. The Papers ofJosiah Bartlett. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1979.

Pillsbury, Hobart. New Hampshire: Resources. Attractions, and Its People. New York: The Lewis Publishing Co., Inc., 1927. (5 volumes)

Regional Center for Educational Training. Perspectives '76: being a Compendium of Useful Knowledge About Old -Time Vermont and New Hampshire. Hanover, New Hampshire, 1975.

Rosal, Lorenca Consuelo. "God Save The People" A New Hampshire History. Orford, NH: Equity Publishing Corporation, 1988.

Squires, James Duane. The Granite State of the United States: A History of New Hampshire from 1623 to the Present. New York: The American Historical Company, Inc.,1956. (4 volumes)

Tardiff, Olive. They Paved The Way: A History of New Hampshire Women. Exeter, NH: Women for Women Weekly Publishing, 1980.

Have fun with this!

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